UK study tests whether tuberculosis vaccine could also be useful against Covid-19

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LONDON (Reuters) – The BCG vaccine, widely used against tuberculosis, will be tested in healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom for its effectiveness against coronavirus, said the researchers who lead the British arm of a global study.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to protect against the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, induces a wide response of the innate immune system and has shown protection against infections or serious illnesses caused by other respiratory pathogens.

“BCG has been shown to increase immunity in a general way, which can offer some protection against Covid-19,” said Professor John Campbell, from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Exeter.

“We are trying to establish whether the BCG vaccine can help protect people who are at risk for Covid-19. If that happens, we can save lives by administering this affordable and affordable vaccine.”

The UK study is part of an existing test led by Australia, which was launched in April and also has ramifications in the Netherlands, Spain and Brazil. The BCG vaccine is also being tested for protection against Covid-19 in South Africa.

The British test is recruiting volunteers before the winter, which is when the situation could get worse, according to authorities, as the country is fighting a second wave of infections.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that restrictions to contain the pandemic should run until spring and is expected to announce new measures to restrict circulation in the country on Monday.

The British part of the test, which is being run in Exeter, southwest England, is looking to recruit 1,000 people who work in nearby health homes and community health services.

Globally, more than 10,000 health professionals will be recruited for the studies.

(By Alistair Smout)

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